Two posts, setting the record straight…
By now, most of you have probably seen or heard the 20/20 story titled Confessions of a PetVet. It’s an interview of a former veterinarian who is speaking out on his opinion about veterinarians being money hungry villains out to make every single penny they can off of your concern for your pet. Do you know how heartbreaking this is for veterinarians to hear come across national TV?
Let me take you through a typical day in the life of a veterinarian/veterinary student. Let’s say you have two patients in the hospital that are your cases. One is CoCo, a 70 pound lab that has been vomiting for the past week. The other is Charlie, a Daushund that woke up paralyzed one morning. You get to the hospital around 6:00 AM to take care of your patients. You take CoCo outside for a walk, you give him all his medications and get all his paperwork ready for his radiographs that will be taken later today.You carry Charlie outside, he can’t pee, so you work for about 20 minutes to help him get his bladder expressed. You pull blood on both of them to see how their internal organs are functioning, and in case they need to go to surgery that day. You weigh them, give them fresh water, clean their cages, and give them a few snuggles. You call both of their owners and give them an update on how their pet is doing. By 8AM you are ready for case rounds with your team. You present all of the information on both patients to your superiors and the whole team talks about the best approach and medical/surgical management for each patient.
Recently ABC News “20/20” ran a November sweeps episode titled “True Confessions.” The segment featured a convicted car thief informing car owners how easy it is to steal a car, shady moving companies and the tricks they play, tales of bartenders watering down drinks, the very unhygienic lifestyle of long-haul truckers, and a former veterinarian who claims some vets “push procedures your dog may not need, including yearly vaccinations and teeth cleaning.” I watched the segment, “Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You?” and concluded it was “20/20” that wasn’t being honest with pet owners.
As a licensed veterinarian for over 21 years and as a dedicated animal advocate since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I understand why networks run programs such as this one. These sensationalist segments prey on the most fundamental fear of pet parents: Am I inadvertently harming my pet loved one? Pet owners rely on the expertise and honesty of their veterinarians to guide them through complex, highly emotional, and sometimes expensive decisions regarding the health and well-being of their animal companions. Any doubt or mistrust jeopardizes this collaboration and may result in potential harm to the dog or cat. “20/20” wants viewers to fear their bartenders, car, truckers, and veterinarians. I fully support healthy skepticism, but I want to address what I believe are outright fallacies presented in this piece of what I consider shoddy journalism.